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Society for Social Studies of Science

4S News

President’s message #6


Nominations for David Edge Prize and Nicholas C. Mullins Award: May 1 deadline

The David Edge Prize is awarded for the best article in the area of science and technology studies.

The Nicholas C. Mullins Award is awarded for an outstanding piece of scholarship by a graduate student in the field of science and technology studies.   

Please submit nominations for the 2014 awards to by May 1, 2014. 

Please see the 4S website <> for eligibility, procedures and additional information about the prize.

First spring Council meeting, March 21-22

Council held its first spring meeting near the San Francisco airport in March. Many members found travel support from home institutions to minimize the cost to 4S. We had a packed agenda and transacted a great deal of business over a day and a half. Formal minutes are in process, so I mention below just a few highlights.

4S is developing an open access journal!

Implementing previous decisions, Council approved a plan to build an open access, 4S-owned, peer-reviewed journal.

Basic system design is underway on the open-source Open Journal System (OJS) platform that many journals use.  I used it in 2007.  It can be clunky but is fully functional.  Check out the International Journal of Communication, for example.

The 4S journal will appear in calendar-year volumes rather than issues.

It will not have author fees!

Per our charter, the Publications Committee will soon issue a call for nominations for the position of editor.  The schedule at present (admittedly aggressive) includes having an editor in place by July 1, with Volume 1 beginning as early as possible in 2015.

An open access journal introduces the opportunity to publish a greater range of publications, including multimedia materials, videography, photographs, significant numbers of themed collections and book reviews, and other, new categories of publication, such as on making and doing. It also raises the possibility of linkages with other digital publications (see next item).

Some challenges include achieving demonstrable scholarly quality in contents, providing high-quality copy-editing, gaining sufficient downloads and citations to warrant acceptance by SCI/SSCI for indexing, developing appropriate publicity, and maintaining adequate financial support. Council is sufficiently confident to proceed.

Additional digital publications!

A working group of the Digital Publications Subcommittee is developing a plan for additional digital publications, potentially associated with the journal. 

The laundry list of possibilities is large, and dreaming is easy.  Careful planning and implementation are much more difficult.  We are borrowing some creative practices from the Society for Cultural Anthropology.  Stay tuned.

Completing ballots for Council and President

The nominations committee and president collected a large number of qualified candidates for Council and the next president (see message #3, January 2014). 

Through a well-designed series of secret ballots, Council winnowed down the lists and is now finalizing decision trees.  Decision trees are necessary in the event someone declines to run. 

We will complete the ballot in May and begin the election process shortly thereafter.

Continuing work

Other initiatives still underway include: (1) making and doing fair/exhibition at annual meetings beginning in 2015; (2) mentoring award; (3) building STS award (actual name/details in process); (4) formalized process for producing resolutions on issues of interest to the membership.  Council will continue seeking input from the membership on all new initiatives when appropriate.

Denver, November 11-14, 2015

Prior to the spring Council meeting, Wes Shrum and I visited the Denver hotel hosting the 2015 meeting.  It is an excellent site.  Virtually all of our meeting rooms are on the concourse level, connecting two towers below the street.  They are good-sized, easy to find, and adequate in number.  The concourse level has a huge open area that could become the perfect site for launching a making and doing fair/exhibition.  The hotel itself sits at the end of a mile-long pedestrian street with a free bus available every few minutes.

Last chance!: nominate speakers for the Joint Presidential Plenary

"What Is STS For? What Are STS scholars For?: Mapping STS Today" is the title of the opening Joint Presidential Plenary in Buenos Aires.  

24 STS scholars (12 each from 4S and ESOCITE) will have 3 minutes each to respond to these prompts by describing what they do, how and why they do it, and what they seek to accomplish in the process. Speakers will present in one of the three official languages, accompanied by slides translating their presentations into the other two languages.

Here's your fourth chance to suggest to me one or more potential 4S presenters (other than yourself) who can share a line of STS scholarship that you find valuable, and do so powerfully, passionately, and persuasively.  Although not essential, I welcome your identifying yourself so I know from where the suggestion comes. I am seeking counsel from many directions.

Come to Buenos Aires August 20-23 for the joint ESOCITE/4S congreso/meeting!  And bring your books to display and donate to the silent auction--to support student travel.
(If you are bringing books to donate, please notify the exhibits coordinator, Wenda Bauchspies.)

Gary Downey